Years ago, I worked at an internet company as the Creative Manager. Initially this company was pretty content focused, (hey it was 2000!) but eventually we hired a CEO who was a marketing genius, had years of proven experience and knew what he was doing. Many of us transitioned from content producers into the newly created marketing department. Until that point we didn’t even have a marketing department.
This transformation was fine with me, I’d always loved the idea of marketing and advertising, the creativity, the teamwork, the problem solving, and according to Mad Men, the gin-soaked lunches. The only problem was I didn’t have any actual training or education in marketing. I felt I had an innate sense of what might work or inspire people to action, my creative background helped me create visual representations of these ideas, but really I was guessing. Could I actually do this job?
One day, as we were preparing to move offices, I came across a box of old mouse pads* featuring our old logo and design scheme. I didn’t really want to throw them away, but they were old and everyone already had perfectly good mouse pads. So I typed up of few sentences of what I considered to be a mock-ad email touting the glory and value of owning one of these “vintage, pieces of X company history” ending with the obvious “hurry, supply limited!”.
I fired it off to the coworkers around me, expecting to hear a few snorts. Within seconds my coworkers were popping up, literally running over to the box to grab handfuls of these old mouse pads. I watched in stunned silence. Wow! I couldn’t believe my email had had that sort of effect, people jumping out of their seats, following my directive. I was moving mouse pads, and quick. That was the moment I realized the power of marketing and a halfway decent spin campaign. I was hooked.
Granted, that was an easy one: targeted market, engaged audience, free product, immediate gratification. I’ve spent the 8-9 years since that day learning how to deliver a message to the trickier marks.
Today I am immersed, not only in my work but also in passive exposure. Monitoring marketing trends and social media is part of my job, but it’s hard to remember a time when I went hours without being exposed to marketing input and opinions. I personally love it, it feels like a rapid fire tennis match of ideas and creativity. I know many find it overwhelming, but I’m in there looking for ideas, analyzing what I see and hear, plotting ways to twist and transform this input for the benefit of our clients. That makes it fun for me, and amazing. The conversations we can have with people we never would have met 10 years ago. The instantaneous reach we now have.
May I humbly suggest taking a moment to be amazed, at how far we’ve come in such a short period, how these tools allow us to precisely target a message or campaign and monitor the results. Are you amazed?
* Youth of America! Once upon a time we had to use a thing called a “mouse” to move our cursor around a computer screen. They had to be plugged in, with a cord. They only really worked if used on top of a small, foamy pad, usually besmirched with a logo or bad advertising. They were dark times.